How many hours do you need to work each week to become a millionaire?
In one corner, you have The 4-Work Week fantasy. But in reality, starting a business on just four hours a week is as likely as riding a Unicorn to the bank to deposit your first million dollar check.
In the other corner you have celebrity entrepreneurs like Grant Cardone and Gary Vaynerchuk recommending 95 hour work weeks and 18 hour work days, respectively.
So who’s right?
I’m going to my mentor, Mark Ford, founder of Early to Rise, for the final say.
In a recent article, Mark wrote:
“A more realistic answer would be much more complex.
According to one study, there were 10.8 million millionaires in America at the end of 2016. A record number (about 4% of the population)
What does that mean?
From a purely statistical point of view, you’d have to work harder than 96% of the population.
How hard does the average American work?
Among adults employed full-time, it’s 47 hours. Nearly six 8-hour days.
According to Barron’s, the average self-made millionaire in America works 59 hours per week. Many work 70 to 80 hours.
So forget about Tim Ferriss’ “promise” of a 4-hour workweek. You can look forward to that someday – when you have built a multi-million-dollar, high-profit business that runs itself. Until then, work your butt off!”
One thing is for sure, after working with thousands of business owners through ETR and my coaching programs, I’ve realized that most entrepreneurs are trapped in the game of “hustle and grind.”
Sure, they’re working the prescribed number of hours, but their results don’t reflect their effort, in their business or their lives.
They’ve become so accustomed to doing everything themselves and unnecessarily working 60 or 70 hour work weeks that they’ve relegated themselves to their unbalanced and unsustainable lifestyles thinking, “This is just how things are.”
But the truth is you don’t have to work crazy hours to be successful.
You don’t have to run every package to the FedEx store, check email at midnight, miss date nights to stay at the office, or spend every waking hour trying to grow your business.
In fact, these habits are counterproductive to your goals and all but guarantee an unsuccessful (not to mention unhappy) life.
So today, I’m going to show you how fix this.
I’ve made it my personal mission to help 1,000 entrepreneurs double their income while working ten hours less each week.
In this essay I’m going to reveal my top ten tactics to decrease the number of hours you work each week while increasing your productive output and income per hour.
If you’ll take action on the lessons I’m about to share with you, your schedule and lifestyle will dramatically change for the better in just 30 days.
Let’s get started.
1. Eradicate What You Hate
The first step to reducing the hours you work and reclaiming control of your schedule is to stop doing the work that you hate.
There will always be aspects of your business that you don’t enjoy but have to do (these include calls with your accountant and lawyer, re-reading sales promotions for the umpteenth time before they go out the door, or making another sales call after you’re 10th rejection in a row). Work won’t always be fun. This is an inescapable part of business and life.
However, there is a fundamental difference between these necessary evils and unnecessary tasks that drain your mental and emotional reservoirs, actively damaging the quality of your performance.
For example, I hate spending time on early morning phone calls. It’s a big mistake, strategically, because I do my best work while the sun rises, and taking calls at that time (from my overseas clients in Europe, Australia, or Singapore) gives away my most valuable hours.
As such, I’ve created boundaries and systems that allow me to avoid spending time on such tasks.
I schedule all of my calls for late morning, mid-afternoon, or early evening so that I never have to waste a minute of my “magic time” in the morning. (I’m also much more sociable after my AM grumpiness has lifted like the fog on a typical San Francisco day).
For you, it might be different.
Maybe you hate being hauled into unnecessary meetings (as if anyone likes this?) or writing last-minute emails to your list in the morning or handling customer support inquiries late at night.
Whatever it is, STOP doing it.
Teach someone else to do it, reschedule it for another time, or eliminate it. Or at the very least, simply reduce the frequency with which you have to do it.
Not only will you save two to three hours a week by not engaging in whatever tasks you hate, but you will save countless more hours by protecting your emotions and willpower from these energy vampires in your life.
And when you plug the leaks in your proverbial bucket, you will have more energy, motivation, and enthusiasm with which to attack the rest of your day.
2. Stop Doing The Things No One Should Do
Another common trap into which every entrepreneur I know has fallen at some point in their career is the trap of doing things well that should not be done at all.
We often struggle to say “No” to new projects. There are countless “good” opportunities flowing into our lives and we often don’t want to turn them down for fear of missing out (FOMO).
From podcast interviews to speaking engagements to posting content on different social media platforms to taking tasks from low-paying clients, there are a whole host of “good but not great” activities in which you likely engage each week.
They don’t move the needle forward in a dramatic way or drive significant profits, but they do something, so you think, “Why not?”
The problem is that we often underestimate the opportunity cost of such activities. We don’t realize how many great opportunities we are giving up to pursue the good ones.
For example, after I first wrote The Perfect Day Formula I asked one of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, for advice on selling the book. He mentioned how he sold 100 books every time he did a teleseminar.
I extrapolated that advice and thought, “Well, if i could sell 100 books every time I was interviewed on someone’s podcast, then I’d sell 10,000 books.”
It didn’t matter if the podcast had 1,000 downloads a day or 1,000 downloads a month. If there was any chance for me to get my book in front of people, I took it.
At first, it was worth it. Every interview helped me tell my story better and prepared me for the big podcasts that eventually came my way. But the law of diminishing returns eventually kicked in, and soon doing a podcast for 500 listeners became a terrible use of my time.
Not only was I not making any significant progress towards growing my business or making my book a best-seller, I was losing many hours a week both directly and indirectly as a result of these interviews.
It took me months to wake up and realize that these interviews with small podcasts were a waste of my time. But once I did, I was able to reclaim several hours per week and could put the time into creating multiple short videos for YouTube and Instagram (that often get 5,000 + views per clip).
So ask yourself… What are you doing in your life or business that doesn’t need to be done at all? What obligations have you taken on that are unnecessary and unproductive?
You can even ask your entire team to do this audit on their activities. Chances are that everyone is doing some activity that if they stopped doing it would not hurt the business – but would save them a ton of time.
Identify these activities and eliminate them. And invest those extra hours into work that matters – or simply take that time and invest it into yourself or time with others.
You’ll only be better for it.
3. Stop Doing Things That Aren’t Your Job
We’ve all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
And though this aphorism may ring with truth, in reality, it’s a prescription for burnout, overwhelm, and failure.
Simply put, success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to rise to the pinnacles of entrepreneurial success, you need a team who can handle tasks outside of your area of genius.
You cannot do everything yourself and you certainly cannot do everything at the highest levels.
For example, in the past year, I realized that I was wasting about four hours a week on uploading videos to social media and taking sales calls with potential coaching clients (even though I have hired team members to do those exact things).
Although these activities are important to my business and essential tasks that must be completed every week, I am not the person who needs to do them.
And so, I delegated them to my team and added an extra four hours back to my week that can be spent on high profit activities or recharging my batteries. This was one of the best decisions I have made this year.
But what about your life and business?
What are the important tasks that must be accomplished every week, but not necessarily by you?
Do you need to write all of the articles that go up on your site? Do you need to spend countless hours pouring over analytics and attempting to optimize your sales funnels? Do you need to upload every video, blog post, ad campaign, and email personally?
Or perhaps you’re wasting your time cleaning your own home, cutting your own lawn, or cooking your own meals. Do you really need to be the one taking care of these tasks?
Take some time right now and identify at least three tasks on which you spend your time every week that could easily be outsourced to a team member or freelancer on Fiverr or the ambitous young high schooler down the street looking to earn a few bucks cutting lawn.
Then outsource those tasks this week.
You’ll be amazed at how this simple act can add hours back into your work week and help you achieve the balance and freedom for which you’ve been striving.
4. Build a Fence Around Yourself
Without a doubt, one of the number one killers of entrepreneurial goals and dreams is distraction.
Study after study has shown that distraction in the workplace–from phone notifications to emails from your boss to co-workers and employees asking for “Just a second” of your time–not only derails your productivity, but also lowers the quality of the work that you produce.
Therefore, one of the first and most important things you can do to improve the quality of your work and reduce the number of hours required to complete it is to build a proverbial fence around yourself.
Refuse to allow distractions in your life.
Set hard boundaries with your colleagues, employees, and clients and tell them that you will be unavailable during specific hours of the day. Put your phone on airplane mode and designate specific times during which you will check your texts, your email, and other notifications.
Sit down with your family and explain the importance of having a distraction free workday and how you will be able to spend more quality time with them if they will respect your boundaries and allow you to stay focused.
If you are still unable to achieve the blocks of distraction free deep work you need, then bite the bullet and wake up early in the morning so that you can tackle those important tasks before the rest of the world is awake and attempting to steal your attention.
Do whatever must be done to give yourself the gift of focused work time.
When you can focus on your most important tasks without facing distractions or interferences, you’ll be able to accomplish those important tasks faster and better, not only saving yourself countless hours each week, but improving the output of those hours in the process.
5. Set Rules for Your Life
I’ve written many times about the importance of having personal rules and principles.
But one of the often overlooked benefits of having these rules in place is that you can accomplish your most important tasks and obligations faster.
When you set rules around efficiency and guarding your focus, you’ll find that you have a much easier time finishing work each week.
For example, if you set the rule that you don’t check email before noon, you will ensure that you aren’t wasting your most focused and productive hours in reaction mode. Instead, you’ll be able to proactively move through your “legacy work” early in the day and go into the afternoon having already completed your most important tasks.
Or, if you set the rule that you do not spend time on social media during work hours, you will save yourself from an endless stream of distractions thus saving 5-10 hours a week.
Identify the activities that must either be accomplished or avoided everyday for you to optimize your productivity and make them your personal rules.
No if’s, and’s, or but’s.
6. Stop Watching TV
The average American watches more than 5 hours of television a day. Meaning that over the course of their lives (assuming they live to the average age of 78), they will consume more than 91,000 hours of mindless entertainment.
That’s more than 3,800 hours or ten years sat in front of a television watching other people achieve the lives and results they desire.
This is not to say you can never go to the movies or watch your favorite show on the weekends. However, if you want to be as productive as possible, max out your happiness and leave a lasting legacy you must value your time at a high enough level to guard it from such senseless distractions.
With those same ten years that most people waste mindlessly watching the flickering of their television screen you can build a million dollar income that makes a positive impact, learn new languages, acquire new skills, spend quality time with the people you love most, and develop yourself into the man or woman you know you have the potential to become.
So I challenge you to give it a try.
For the next 28 days commit to keeping the TV off and instead spend those hours reading, connecting, learning, and growing.
If you finish the challenge and still feel pulled by the siren’s song of the latest season of Game of Thrones or Billions, that’s fine. But you must set firm boundaries around your consumption (I would encourage you to watch no more than 2 hours a week).
Take it from a reformed TV addict (who used to plop down on the couch every night with an episode or two of Seinfeld or The Office) once you kick the habit, you’ll never want to go back.
7. Don’t Waste Your Time with Sports
Very similar to the last point, please, for the love of all that is good in this world, stop obsessing over sports.
Your life is not affected or improved in any way when some 20-something athlete successfully runs across a field or puts a ball through a hoop.
You’re a grown adult with responsibilities and a real life to lead.
Don’t waste it watching (and likely criticizing) another person playing a child’s game.
Not convinced by my plea? Over to Mark Ford for his advice on the subject:
“For a period of several years, I was a rabid fan of the Miami Heat. During that frenzied time there was nothing the Heat could do that I would think of criticizing. Every bucket they scored was a nod from God himself. Every foul they made was justified.
And every game they won gave me the sort of thrill I had experienced only through drugs. Every game they lost put me in a long state of despair.
I was mindless, fanatical, and irrationally attached to a billion-dollar franchise that cared nothing about me except for my lifetime value to them in dollars.
I have the fortune to be acquainted with many, many highly intelligent people. Among them, I would include most of the members of my family and most of my best friends. A minority of them, like me, is uncomfortable with tribal allegiance. But the rest of them root mindlessly for their teams without giving their behavior a second thought.”
Again, give it a try. Stop wasting time and energy on an outcome outside of your control, and get back to building your business.
If you become a billionaire through your efforts, feel free to buy a team in the future. Then you can go to the games. 🙂
8. Quit Watching and Reading the News
When a meteor strikes earth or your country is invaded or AI take over the planet, guess what?
And you won’t need CNN, Fox News, or BBC to hear about it.
As for all of the other terrible things happening in other cities, states, and countries? Well, reading about them isn’t exactly going to change anything, will it?
The news, like sports, social media, and television is an industry that deals in the currency of attention.
And guess what? They aren’t interested in keeping you informed and tending to your well-being. Their sole interest is in keeping your attention captured and keeping you addicted to their negative and fear-based stories.
Despite what you’ll hear on popular news channels, the world is better, safer, and freer than it’s ever been in human history.
So try enjoying it for a change instead of worrying about it.
9. Beat Your Commute
The average American spends roughly 4.35 hours a week commuting. And for most people, those are 4.35 hours that are completely wasted.
However, with a little bit of ingenuity, you can beat your commute at its own game and reclaim those hours, adding nearly nine days of productive time back to your schedule each year.
If possible, I encourage you to Uber to the office and work in the back or the car so that you can use those hours productively.
However, if you don’t have the means to hire a driver every morning, you can still outsmart your commute.
Whether you carpool, take a shorter route, leave earlier to beat the traffic, or listen to personal development and business courses while you drive–turning your car into what Brian Tracy calls a “University on Wheels”–there are ways to beat your commute and guard your time.
But you must be willing to think outside of the box.
10. Stop Priding Yourself on the Number of Hours You Work
The final way to earn more money, work less, and reclaim control of your life is to reframe your mindset around the hours you work.
Most entrepreneurs wear 60-hour work weeks and all-nighters as a badge of honor.
They think to themselves, “Look at me! I work soooooo much harder than everyone else.”
And I get it. I used to be the same way.
But the truth is, if you’re working long hours and leaving no time for yourself, your friends, and family, you’re doing something wrong.
Spending all of your time at the office and failing to prioritize your health, your family, and your life is not a badge of honor, but a sign of deeply rooted problems that must be addressed.
Yes, there will be periods of time where you might have to put in longer hours, work weekends, and stay late at the office. But these times should be the exception, not the rule.
So if you find yourself chronically overworked and can’t remember the last time you took a whole weekend off (let alone went on vacation), then STOP.
Step back from your business and career and carefully analyze how you are spending your time and what you’re doing wrong.
Because if you don’t, I can guarantee you will one day find yourself on your deathbed asking yourself, “Great, I made my million bucks… but was it worth it for what I missed?”